Posted by: sommecourt | 03/04/2011

Into the Liri Valley

I’ve just returned from a week in Italy where we were looking at potential filming locations for the Dig WW2 series for BBC. The landscape in Italy, and especially around Monte Cassino, is very different but as ever with this series we are looking to cover something fresh so aside from the usual story of the battle for the monastery we spent some time in the Liri Valley, looking at the fourth and final Battle for Cassino. The attack in the Liri Valley in May 1944 finally broke the Gustav Line, when British and Indian troops crossed the Gari and Rapido rivers and opened the way for Canadian troops to advance up the valley towards the last line of defence – the Hitler Line. Renamed the ‘Sener Line’ after the local commander when the Germans feared the defences would fall, the Hitler Line was attacked in force on 23 May 1944 when more than 3,000 Canadian troops supported by 810 guns of all calibres up to 240mm and several armoured regiments ruptured the barbed wire, mine fields and concrete bunkers. It was the costliest day of the war in Italy for the Canadians but it signalled the final advance on Rome, and potentially the end of the campaign.

For Dig WW2 we have been in touch with a local archaeological group and spent a superb day with them seeing some of the defences and arranging for digs on them. It is a battlefield in which no archaeology has ever been filmed before, so hopefully it will add a fresh angle to the struggle that was Monte Cassino.



  1. hi paul,

    just read the thread on Dig ww2 about the liri valley, excellent work well done. Did you film any of the trip ? or was it just the start of some research ?



  2. Filming is later this month for a winter 2011/12 broadcast.

    • where in the valley are you filming ? is it area from “the hollow victory” book or ?


  3. I don’t know that book, but the area we are filming is on the Hitler Line. As this involves two archaeological digs I can’t say precisely where for obvious reasons but it is along sections where Canadian troops attacked and in one area supported by Irish units.

    • Sounds very interesting, the book i meant was Cassino: The Hollow Victory by John Ellis. probably the most accurate account of the Cassino conflict available. I’m going to Italy in August and plan a trip to the area, so i was doing some research when i came upon your muisings. Very interested in the project, how is your italian ? we have relatives in the area and i hope to get them to show me a few sites that are not on the tourist trail.


  4. Ah ok, that book. You might find the Italy pages of my WW2 website of use for your trip:

    • just had look, excellent ref material there thanks. i’ll be in touch nearer to my trip. good luck with the filming. let us know how you get on ? speak soon.


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